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How voting machines work

A bit of public service from TPR that almost certainly won’t be read or believed by the people who need to see it.

So how do the voting machines used in Texas elections actually work?

First off, only two voting systems manufacturers are certified to sell their systems in Texas: Hart InterCivic and Election Systems & Software (ES&S).

Hart InterCivic systems are used in 113 counties, including Harris and Tarrant counties. ES&S systems are used in the other 141 counties, including Bexar, Travis, and Dallas counties.

Republican Texas Secretary of State John Scott explained in this video that these companies’ machines must be certified by the Election Assistance Commission, a bipartisan federal body, and the state.

“In Texas, we have even higher standards for our voting systems which must be certified by our office in conjunction with computer science experts and legal experts at the Texas Attorney General’s Office,” he added.

When either company makes an update to its machines or software, it must be re-certified before it can sell those updated systems.

One false allegation that circulated around voting machines is that they are hackable because of a connection to the internet. Scott explained why this isn’t true.

“Voting machines in Texas are never connected to the internet,” he said. “In fact, in order to be certified in Texas elections, they cannot even have the capability of connecting to the internet.”

This allegation comes from a misunderstanding about how voting data gets transferred and counted.

Both Hart InterCivic and ES&S use encrypted USB drives inside their voting systems to collect voting data and physically move those drives to county election departments to tabulate, or count, votes. The drives are designed in such a way that they can only pull data from and provide data to pre-approved computers, so they can’t be plugged into a random laptop and be tampered with.

Scott said there are extensive protocols in place to ensure the drives themselves aren’t stolen or lost.

“Once early voting begins in Texas, there are strict requirements and chain of custody protocols that poll workers must follow continuously with each voting machine,” he said.

That includes transporting the USBs in bags with numbered seals, so it’s easy to tell if they’ve been opened before they were intended to.

Once those USBs are brought to the elections department after early voting ends, they’re locked up until they can be tabulated on Election Day.

There’s more, so read the rest. The sad truth is that the facts are boring and the unhinged conspiracy theories are sexy and exciting, but what are you gonna do? The fact that SOS John Scott is part of the problem is regrettable, but this is the hand we’ve been dealt. Show the denialists in your life the facts and don’t give them an inch. It’s the best we can do.

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